Best Of The Web
“Ian Buruma was forced out last week as editor of the New York Review of Books after publishing an essay by a man who admitted that he has abused women. Mr. Buruma’s sudden departure caps a shameful season of American journalism.
In July, the Nation apologized for a poem for the first time in its 153-year history. In August, the New Yorker canceled a conversation at its annual festival between editor David Remnick and former White House aide Steve Bannon. All three publications were responding to outrage that they had dared provide a platform for views—or people—seen by a certain segment of the population as offensive, even dangerous.
The U.S. is deeply polarized, with divisions over race, class and sexuality widening under a president who exploits them. Social media brings out the worst in us. But good journalism has traditionally helped society find balance in unsettled times by giving voice to all sides of the debate, by helping people talk through their differences and seek compromise.
These three august institutions failed to do that. To put it plainly: They caved in.
In “How-To,” the poem published by the Nation, a street hustler offers advice on how to panhandle. The use of dialect suggests that the hustler is black, drawing complaints that the poem is racist. Because the hustler suggests faking a disability, it was condemned as “ableist.” The poet, Anders Carlson-Wee, who is white, was also accused of “cultural appropriation.” “We are sorry for the pain we have caused to the many communities affected by this poem,” wrote the magazine’s poetry editors, Stephanie Burt and Carmen Gimenez Smith. They said they were “revising our process for solicited and unsolicited submissions.” The New Yorker’s change of heart occurred after many liberals expressed outrage that Mr. Bannon had been invited to its festival and several celebrity speakers threatened to withdraw.”
JJ Best Of The Web
"Donald Trump is the only President of the United States since the collapse of the Soviet Union who has been unable to “reset” the U.S. relationship with Russia."
"This past weekend Melania Trump’s spokeswoman penned an op-ed for CNN in which she criticized the media’s unrelenting criticism of the first lady... Is it true that the media have a fixation on the first lady’s fashion sense?"
"Ultra-Orthodox Jews are smarter consumers, have interest-free loan funds, and are satisfied even if they are poor, the Haredi Institute for Public Affairs has found."
"In Anti-Fandom: Dislike and Hate in the Digital Age, out January 8, Melissa Click delivers a collection of 15 essays by scholars exploring the many ways there are to hate, and why we love to do it."
"For more than a decade, ultrarich people from the former Soviet Union, China and the Middle East have turned to London mansions, New York high-rises, and chic properties in Vancouver, Miami and Paris to store their cash."
"Virtual worlds give back what has been scooped out of modern life . . . it gives us back community, a feeling of competence, and a sense of being an important person whom people depend on."
"It’s the end of 2019 and America’s bountiful harvest is in. But President Donald Trump is facing a crisis few contemplated the year before: a food shortage almost everywhere else in the world."
"Christopher Hitchens died seven years ago this Saturday, a decade after breaking ranks with onetime friend Gore Vidal and beginning a feud that symbolized major changes in left-wing politics."
"I could try to find out where my ancestors may have come from, but that is never going to show me what I’ve actually inherited."
"Have you eaten a Cheez-It sometime in the past eight years? If so, as they say on TV, call now because you may be entitled to compensation."
"An intelligent fish has stirred up a debate about how to measure self-awareness among animals—and what self-awareness even is in the first place."
"...either our youth walk out on Judaism or maintain a lukewarm relationship with Jewish observance; or, they become so obsessed by its finest points that they are incapable of seeing the forest from the trees."